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Votes Hand Recounted in Florida US Senate Race

Voice of America
17 Nov 2018, 05:05 GMT+10

A hand recount of the votes cast in Florida's U.S. Senate race began Friday after a federal judge angrily told election officials they are making a mockery of the state around the globe.

'We have been the laughingstock of the world election after election, but we've still chosen not to fix this,' an angry Walker said Thursday.

His remarks were an apparent reference to the 2000 presidential election which had to be decided by the Supreme Court when a state-wide vote recount in Florida was turning into a mess of confusion, charges, and counter charges.

Florida law requires a hand recount if a machine count finds the margin of victory is less than 0.25 percent.

As of late Thursday, Democratic incumbent Senator Bill Nelson trailed his Republican challenger, Governor Rick Scott, by just 0.15 percent.

Election officials missed a Thursday deadline for recounting the ballots for the Senate, saying counting machines in Palm Beach kept breaking down.

Officials in Tampa Bay declined to turn in their recount result because it came up more than 800 votes short of the original election day tally.

Federal Judge Mark Walker refused to extend the deadline and berated election officials for not anticipating problems.

Both Democrats and Republicans have filed a number of lawsuits relating to vote counting.

He was no doubt also thinking about the 2000 presidential election which had to be decided by the Supreme Court when a state-wide vote recount in Florida was turning into a mess of confusion, charges, and counter charges.

Judge Walker has also given voters until Saturday afternoon to correct their ballots if they weren't counted because of mismatched signatures.

Florida officials testified in court that nearly 4,000 ballots had already been rejected by local election officials because the signatures mailed in didn't match the signature on file. The new deadline would apply to many ballots likely cast by young Democratic voters.

A study conducted before the elections by the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida discovered mail-in ballots from young voters were more likely to be dismissed, partially because the young voters - who primarily use computer keyboards - have not used handwriting enough to develop a consistent signature.

Democrats, meanwhile, continue to gain seats in the House of Representatives, after taking back the lower chamber last week for the first time in eight years. Democrats now have a 231 to 198 edge, with six races still undecided.

The latest Democratic victory was announced Thursday night. Katie Porter ousted two-term Congresswoman Mimi Waters in California's 45th District, once a nationally known Republican stronghold. A law professor and champion of consumer rights, she ran on a progressive platform that included overturning U.S. President Donald Trump's and the Republicans' tax plan, Medicare for All and a ban on assault weapons.

Earlier Thursday, Jared Golden was declared the winner in a race in Maine against incumbent Republican Representative Bruce Poliquin. That contest represented the first test of a new state ranked-choice voting system, designed to prevent candidates in races featuring at least three contenders from winning office without majority support. Golden is a Marine veteran who also campaigned on progressive policies such as Medicare for everyone.

The day after the election, Trump boasted that 'It was a big day yesterday. The Republican Party defied history to expand our Senate majority while significantly beating expectations in the House.'

'It was very close to a complete victory,' he trumpeted.

As results rolled in on election night, it appeared Republicans might add three or four seats to their current 51-49 Senate majority.

But a Republican lead for a contest in the southwestern state of Arizona collapsed, giving Democrat Kyrsten Sinema a seat that been held by Republicans for 30 years.

With Senate races in Florida and Mississippi yet to be decided, Republicans at most will add two seats to their majority.

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